A FORMER Wigan rugby league academy player is embarking on one of sport’s toughest challenges to boost a local special school.
One-time England Schoolboys international Andrew Crabtree, who came through the ranks at Wigan before playing for Orrell rugby union, Swinton and Oldham, will take on the epic Ironman UK triathlon to raise money for Hope School and Hawkley Brook College in Marus Bridge.
Andrew decided to enter the Ironman, which consists of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike and a full marathon run, after seeing how much the school has helped his 16-year-old cousin Luke Unsworth.
Andrew, from Golborne, was so inspired he agreed to take on the triathlon despite having to start swimming and cycling virtually from scratch.
The 29-year-old said: “I think Luke has come on a lot since going there, I’ve seen improvements in him and he’s much more confident and chatty.
“I was talking to my uncle at my sister’s wedding in Cyprus last year and he was saying how good they’ve been with him, and I decided I wanted to raise some money for them. I was going to do the Ironman anyway as I turn 30 this year and wanted to set myself a challenge, and thought it would be a good opportunity to do some fund-raising.”
Andrew is now training hard for his Ironman challenge around his day job as a project manager for nuclear de-commissioning, honing his open water swimming at the Three Sisters and putting in miles on the bike ahead of the race’s famously tough cycling course across the hills of Lancashire.
With just two weeks to go until race day, he admits to feeling slightly nervous about the magnitude of the task he has taken on.
He said: “I’m most nervous about the biking, I’ve only ever done a bit of mountain biking before and road riding is very different. I did a half-Ironman and got through that in one piece, but the bike course will be much hillier around Rivington.”
Andrew has currently raised around £600 out of his target of £1,000, which the school intend to use to build a learning garden where students at the college can practise their horticultural skills developed during weekly classes at a community allotment in Golborne.
Hope School assistant head Helen Leach said: “I think what Andrew’s doing is amazing, and it will help us do something we’ve wanted to get up and running for a while.”
To sponsor Andrew or find out more, search for Ironman for Hope on Facebook.